University of Iowa College of Law
The University of Iowa
290 Boyd Law Building
Iowa City, IA 52242
TippingTheScales (2013): NR
U.S. News (2013): 26
AboveTheLaw (2013): 37
Academics & Programs: Students at the affordable University of Iowa College of Law are unanimous on one point: Iowa is “the most underrated school in the country.” “If you want to learn from the best without giving an arm and a leg for tuition,” they say, “come to this school.” The “sympathetic” faculty at Iowa is “very concerned with providing the best academic experience.” “Professors are demanding in a way that I know will make me a better lawyer,” relates 2L. “They are brilliant yet not egomaniacs.” “Some scare the crap out of you, and some create a warm classroom environment.” Outside of class, “The professors are, for the most part, interesting and cool people,” and interaction between students and professors is exceedingly common. Sure, they are “awkward socially,” but “Even the most distinguished professors welcome you into their offices, and it’s not uncommon to go out to dinner with your professor and a few classmates.”
Classes here “tend toward the theoretical.” “Iowa presents kind of a contradiction,” proffers a 2L. “It is a theory-driven program that produces mostly practicing attorneys.” Iowa’s ten practice clinics are “very strong,” “and there are plenty of slots available” (though you do have to lottery into them). “The Iowa City/Cedar Rapids area has opportunities to practice while in law school, but those opportunities are somewhat limited.” The legal writing program garners mixed reviews. “We are learning to write legal briefs and memos from the best,” contends a satisfied 1L. Others feel “cheated.” “We could use a lot more hands-on training with writing and research,” says one student. Pretty much everyone who mentions the moot court program is unhappy with it. “The faculty can’t be bothered to provide meaningful coaching or instruction,” laments one student.
The Career Services staff here “is a group of all-stars” that provides “all of the assistance you need.” “The top twenty-five to thirty percent of students don’t seem to have any trouble finding work in cities across the country, including New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Boston.” By and large, though, students end up practicing in one of “several large markets” throughout the Midwest. Some students complain that “Iowa could do better in attracting and encouraging employers outside of the Midwest.” “If you want to work in the Midwest, this school is considered good, and employers are eager to interview you,” advises a 2L. “If you want to work anywhere else, go to law school in that region.”
Campus Life/Facilities: The “really space-constrained” law school building is “functional, though it looks pretty awful.” “It was built in the early ‘80s, and I think at that time people thought it was cool and futuristic,” adds a 2L, “but now it just looks like something out of Star Trek IV.” “Classrooms are pretty typical,” though students “appreciate the plentiful outlets and wireless Internet.” “There is no shortage of PCs available in the computer labs,” and “The school also has very friendly tech gurus.” The “extensive” law library is “a little bubble of greatness.” It’s “open late” and “always staffed by friendly librarians who know more about the law than anyone ever should.”
Students are “mostly white and from Iowa or Illinois,” but there is also “a surprisingly large number of kids from the coasts.” “I was actually surprised by how many non-Midwestern students are currently at the school,” admits a 1L. Overall, it’s “a good mix of people from all walks of life.” There are “some very conservative points of view” but “young crazy liberals” predominate. There are “a lot of do-gooders who are very socially conscious and commit a tremendous amount of time to community and national issues.” “U of I law students and most of the professors have a definite liberal slant,” says a 2L. “If you’re conservative and not articulate and able to defend your opinions, you’ll never survive classroom discussion.”
“Students at Iowa are competitive, certainly.” “I was surprised by how many gunners there actually are,” relates a 3L. It’s “friendly” gunning, though. Iowa students are “a group of people who have their priorities in order, who are willing to lend a hand, and who are remarkably grounded in reality.” “There’s an earnestness and commitment to integrity and excellence that Iowa students, faculty, and staff all share,” enthuses a 3L. “It makes Iowa a unique place, and it makes me hopeful for the legal profession as a whole. As a jaded California native and East Coast private college graduate, I never cease to be surprised by the quality and professionalism I’ve found here in the heartland.”
Socially, though “People tend to buckle down when it is demanded,” “You can be sure to find friends out at a bar” on virtually any given weekend night. “Everyone is very good friends with each other,” and Iowa City is “a fun town.” Coffee shops, libraries, bookstores, and great restaurants abound. There are “weekly Law Nights held at a local drinking establishment.” “There’s no such thing as a grad student bar in Iowa City,” and there is “a pretty big divide between people who took time off and people who came straight from undergrad.”
* The Princeton Review is not affiliated with Princeton University.